Monday, May 1, will see the seventh staging of the annual Voortrekker Monument Military and History Fair which this year will have an SA National Defence Force (SANDF) element.
That the event has grown in popularity since the first event on the monument grounds, south of the Pretoria CBD, is aptly illustrated by a doubling in the number of stalls reserved by exhibitors when compared to 2016. This increase in exhibitors has seen a relocation of the event to the amphitheatre, north-east of the monument itself and with ample parking.
A last minute withdrawal last year by the SA Army meant fairgoers were not able to see equipment currently in use by the landward service of the SANDF. That’s not going to happen again according to Voortrekker Monument communications officer Geraldine Paulsen. She said the Army’s Armour Formation indicated it would show some of its equipment.
This means fairgoers will probably have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Rooikat armoured vehicle as well as talk to its crew.
The flypast of Border War era aircraft which proved extremely popular last year will again see Alouette II and III helicopters and a Bosbok fixed wing reconnaissance aircraft do the “low and slow thing” over the large crowd expected. A new addition to the aerial display will be a demonstration of the role helicopters can – and do – execute in apprehending criminals, including wildlife poachers.
The black powder fans will again have the opportunity to see the Monument’s cannon – Susanna – fired. Originally in service as a six pound ship’s cannon with the Royal Navy dating back to the 1820s, the cannon came to Pretoria from Cape Town High School in 2003. Susanna is primed and fired once a month by the Cannon Society of South Africa, which also sponsors the black powder needed to make her go bang. The monthly firings on the Voortrekker Monument heritage site have become must attends for Gauteng-based cannon enthusiasts.
Other attractions include a range of models from the Zwartkop Scale Modellers club, Koevoet and Rhodesian Light Infantry stalls, military books as well as other militaria, medals, uniforms and military art.